Sorry, Mom. This Year I’m Tossing Out the Rules.
Once I heard that word from my mother, I learned not to ask again. Then I grew up and became a fundraiser. Forty years later, I still get nervous whenever I break my mother’s sacred rules. Actually, I got over my hesitation to talk about money pretty quickly when I realized that, in fundraising, talking about money is really talking about good work. But I must admit I still feel uncomfortable bugging donors over and over again for gifts.
In a recent workshop at the No More Homeless Pets conference, Best Friends Direct Response Marketing Senior Manager Terri Shoemaker urged us to ask, and ask again. “Don’t rest your donors,” she admonished, adding that we should give our supporters choices about when and how to jump in. According to Terri, the person who has given within the last 3 months is the person most likely to give again. Wow! That flies in the face of old wisdom, not only from my mother but also from old-school fundraisers. But I have to admit that I get multiple requests for donations from Best Friends. I may not always take out my checkbook, but I never resent the ask. In fact, I’m actually honored to be asked and asked again because each appeal is filled with good news about the work my donations are making possible. Light bulb!
In my gut I know Terri’s right…particularly if we ask for slightly different things in slightly different ways. So this year, I’m throwing out my mother’s rules and changing up the year-end fund raising strategy for our mobile spay/neuter clinic. Here’s the plan:
This week, invitations are going out to everyone on our mailing list for an art show in support of our mission. Concurrently, we’re hijacking our website’s homepage with a special mini-campaign to raise funds for new tires for the mobile van. Next week, we’ll send out an e-blast thanking our donors for the good work they’ve made possible so far this year and offering them several ways to keep that work going, including the art show, the tire campaign, and an opportunity to make holiday gifts in lieu of gifts to family and friends. All of this will be mentioned in Facebook posts throughout the coming weeks.
But wait. There’s more. At the end of the month, we’ll send out personal letters to those who made gifts in previous years but have not given this year (Lybunts and Sybunts), as well as a holiday greeting card appeal to everyone else on our mailing list. That, too, will be supported by an e-blast. And finally, as recommended by Kim Klein in her presentation at No More Homeless Pets, we’ll be calling our top donors in December, just to thank them for their support and remind them of what a crucial role they are playing in getting us to our goal of a world in which every cat and dog born has a loving home.
That’s a lot of asking, particularly when you consider that, in previous years, we sent out one appeal at the end of November and left it at that. Does this make me nervous? Maybe a little, but I’m eager to see how it all shakes out. The response will tell us whether we should do it again next year. Stay tuned.